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UNESCO’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic : focus on preventive education

Medium-Term Strategy, 2002-2007
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UNESCO’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic seeks to combat complacency, challenge stigmatization, overcome the tyranny of silence, and promote more caring attitudes. In cooperation with UNAIDS co-sponsors, Member States, civil society partners and the private sector, UNESCO’s contribution to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemics concentrates on : Integrating HIV/AIDS preventive education into the global development agenda and national policies, adapting preventive education to the diversity of needs and contexts, encouraging responsible behaviour and reducing vulnerability.

Fighting HIV/AIDS through preventive education is no single-point programme. It is directed towards five core tasks:
  • Advocacy at all levels
  • Customizing the message
  • Changing risk behaviour
  • Caring for the infected and affected
  • Coping with the institutional impact of HIV/AIDS

    Prevention is not only the most economical response - it is the most patent and potent response, i.e. changing behaviour by providing knowledge, fostering attitudes and conferring skills through culturally sensitive and effective communication. An approach based on human rights is fundamental for both providing preventive educationand treatment as well as in combating stigma and improving living conditions of the infected and affected.UNESCO’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic : focus on preventive education

    HIV/AIDS is threatening to wipe out decades of investments in education and in human development, particularly in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean. No longer simply a health problem, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is becoming a “total human problem” and a development disaster. It is especially serious among young adults; everywhere, it strikes at the poor and uneducated.

    In many African countries, it afflicts the groups whose knowledge and skills are most vital for development. Given this context, the United Nations Millennium Assembly set as an explicit goal the reduction of HIV infection rates in persons 15 to 24 years of age by 25 per cent within the most affected countries before the year 2005 and by 25 per cent globally before 2010.

    UNESCO can best contribute to curbing the epidemic by taking a lead role in preventive education within the global framework of the United Nations system, in particular UNAIDS. It can build on its unique interdisciplinary experience by combining educational policies, approaches and practices, knowledge from science, sensitivity to diverse cultural and social contexts and capacity-building in communication.UNESCO’s strategy will focus on addressing the needs of those who are most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, including the poor, young girls and women, and out-of-school children and youth.

    UNESCO’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic will seek to combat complacency, challenge stigmatization, overcome the tyranny of silence, and promote more caring attitudes. In cooperation with UNAIDS co-sponsors, Member States, civil society partners and the private sector, UNESCO’s contribution to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemics will concentrate on :

  • Integrating HIV/AIDS preventive education into the global development agenda and national policies:
    UNESCO will engage in high-level advocacy to facilitate a better mobilization of resources and an effective integration of HIV/AIDS prevention into larger development frameworks, including poverty eradication strategies, comprehensive preventive and health education strategies against malaria and tuber-culosis, and the follow-up to EFA. At the national level, UNESCO will promote wider policy dialogue and greater public information with respect to HIV/AIDS prevention. UNESCO will also attend to the institutional impact of the pandemic, especially by contributing to the stabilization of education systems.

  • Adapting preventive education to the diversity of needs and contexts:
    UNESCO will work on enhancing the quality and effectiveness of preventive education and on developing access to scientific information on HIV/AIDS provided by basic research. This will include new and clearly targeted preventive education tools, informed by innovative social and cultural approaches to the pandemic. Close attention will be given to disseminating accurate information about methods of transmission, safe practices and counselling services through formal and non-formal education and networks, in order to reach students, institutions and communities. In addition, UNESCO will promote scientific cooperation and strengthen capacities of higher education institutes to produce and disseminate research and information related to HIV/AIDS.

  • Encouraging responsible behaviour and reducing vulnerability:
    Preventive education is a concern and a responsibility for all, including people living with HIV/AIDS. UNESCO will develop methods and materials to enable decision-makers, the educational community and youth to play an efficient and responsible role in HIV/AIDS prevention and to prevent discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS. It will also encourage innovative community responses that empower the most vulnerable and promote respect for human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS. Finally, UNESCO will continue to explore the ethical dimensions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, includ-ing access to treatment and vaccine trials.

    Expected outcomes
  • Comprehensive and broad-based HIV/AIDS education and prevention campaigns
    conducted, particularly among the 15-24 age group in Africa and South Asia;
  • Effective preventive education strategies in both formal and non-formal settings
    devised and implemented particularly in severely affected Member States, including
    the Focusing Resources for Effective School Health (FRESH) initiative;
  • Development of clearly targeted and culturally sensitive preventive education
    methods and materials.
  • Impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic on educational capacities assessed.


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